Dems tar­get ban on pub­lic fund­ing of abortion

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Cas­teel Staff writer ccas­[email protected]

The U.S. House may soon take a vote on whether to strike a long­stand­ing ban on pub­lic fund­ing of abor­tions, as some Democrats, in­clud­ing leading pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, have crit­i­cized the pol­icy as dis­crim­i­nat­ing against poor women.

“I'm in fa­vor of mak­ing sure women have the abil­ity to make their own health and re­pro­duc­tive

de­ci­sions, and I think that in­cludes re­pro­duc­tive is­sues like ed­u­ca­tion, birth control, other things like that,” U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Ok­la­homa City, said Satur­day when asked about efforts to end the ban.

“The con­cern with (the Hyde Amend­ment) is it lim­its care providers' abil­ity to pro­vide the whole suite of care.”

The so-called Hyde Amend­ment bars fund­ing of abortion through Med­i­caid, the In­dian Health Ser­vice, mil­i­tary health care or other fed­eral pro­grams, except in the cases of rape or in­cest or to save the life of the mother.

First ap­proved in 1977, the pol­icy is re­newed each year through ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills.

“That's just been an au­to­matic,” no mat­ter which party con­trolled the White House or Congress, U.S. Rep. Frank Lu­cas said.

Hil­lary Clin­ton, the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, called for end­ing the ban on pub­lic fund­ing, as did the Democrats' na­tional plat­form that year.

Leading Demo­cratic can­di­dates for the 2020 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion

have also called for end­ing the pol­icy, with for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden re­vers­ing his long sup­port or the Hyde Amend­ment.

“If I be­lieve health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer sup­port an amend­ment that makes that right de­pen­dent on some­one' s ZIP code ,” Bid en said in a re­cent tweet.

De­spite the growin gs en tim en tag a inst t he pol­icy, Democrats included the Hyde Amend­ment in the spend­ing bill for the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment, bo wing to the re­al­ity that the GOP-con­trolled Se­nate and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sup­port the pol­icy.

Rep. Rose DeLauro, a New York Demo­crat who helped craft the bill, said in April, that Democrats “know the power of the White House and t hat this pres­i­dent will reject a re­peal of the Hyde amend­ment. That is why this bill main­tains cur­rent law with re­gards to the Hyde Amend­ment.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, the top

Repub­li­can on the panel that wrote the spend­ing bill, said, “Demo­cratic mem­bers of t he Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee who would like to get rid of the Hyde Amend­ment long term left it in the bill be­cause they knew they couldn't get this bill through the Se­nate and the pres­i­dent would never sign it.”

As the spend­ing bill goes to the full House this week, some Demo­cratic mem­bers want to take an­other shot at the pol­icy and have of­fered an amend­ment to strip it from the bill.

Cole is also the top Repub­li­can on the Rules Com­mit­tee, which was set Mon­day to con­sider whether to al­low an amend­ment strip­ping the Hyde Amend­ment.

If the Hyde Amend­ment is stripped and Democrats in­sist on that po­si­tion, it will shut­down the ap­pro­pri­a­tions process this year, Cole said.

“I un­der­stand this is an is­sue in­side the Demo­cratic pri­mary,

but it would ab­so­lutely de­stroy the nor­mal func­tion­ing of ap­pro­pri­a­tions in Washington, D. C .,” Cole said.

“We made this grand com­pro­mise many years ago — this is now a 40- year- old amend­ment. The fact that we would try to up­set it would just create chaos.”

Ok­la­homa Repub­li­cans in Congress sup­port the Hyde Amend­ment.

Horn said Satur­day she hadn't read the pro­posed amend­ment to re­peal the Hyde Amend­ment.

“We don't have pub­lic fund­ing of abortion, but I think we've got to en­sure that ac­cess to ser­vices are still avail­able for in­di­vid­u­als that need them and that we're fol­low­ing science and ev­i­dence-based care,” Horn said.

“I' m going to come down on the side of en­sur­ing we're ex­pand­ing ac­cess to re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices, in­clud­ing birth control, ev­i­dencebased ed­u­ca­tion. I think those are the ways that we r educe un­in­tended preg­nan­cies and thus re­duce the need for abortion. And I think that's re­ally im­por­tant.”



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